Empire Lake is a shallow lake located within Whitetail Woods Regional Park. The lake formed in 1965 when a private earthen dam was constructed with the help of the Natural Resource Conservation Service. While the dam is given a low-hazard classification by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, several repairs and improvements are required.
In fall 2018, Dakota County will temporarily close the unpaved trail on the south side of the lake (where the earthen dam is located) to complete the improvements. Dakota County will also use the trail closure to place a paved, ADA-compliant trail on top of the dam once safety improvements have been completed. The project will accomplish the following:
- Replace the degraded existing lake outlet structure (pipes) to improve flow capacity for larger, more intense precipitation events.
- Add a required emergency/auxiliary spillway.
- Remove trees and roots that promote undesired seepage and affect dam stability.
- Add a seepage filter on the downstream side to safely collect and convey water that passes through the clay core, addressing stability.
- Add material to the downstream side to allow trail maintenance vehicles to safely cross the dam
- Provide an ADA-compliant multi-use paved trail over the top of the dam.
Trail closures starting Sept. 10
During the project, several trail segments will be closed starting Sept. 10 through November. See a trail closure map.
Signs will be placed at the trail to alert park goers of the closure. You can also find alerts with the exact closure dates on Dakota County social media pages and parks e-newsletter.
Sept. 24–Oct. 8: Remove trees and place fill
Oct. 8–Nov. 1: Reinforce dam and replace outlet and manholes
Spring 2019: Trail prep and gravel placement
May 2019: Additional temporary closure (3-4 days) to accommodate paving and final site restoration
If you have questions or comments, please contact Mike Behan, Stormwater Specialist with the Dakota County Environmental Resources Department at 952-891-7539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, go to the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Fund website.